Gay at a Christian College

An open letter to the presidents of member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities:

I am gay and I teach at a CCCU institution. I would like to tell you my name, my discipline, but I can’t because doing so would place my job at risk, as you well know.

My story is neither dramatic nor a profile in courage. Raised in a conservative Christian home, I only knew that homosexuality was a very serious sin. Then in graduate school, I fell in love with someone of the same sex — ironically enough, a conservative Christian like myself. My feelings scared me greatly. This person loved me as well, but we never articulated what those feelings were to each other until much later, when the feelings had changed. Since that time I have loved other persons of my sex, but only recently have I accepted my sexual orientation, when I am already teaching at a CCCU institution.

On institutional websites at Christian colleges one can find statements titled “Community Covenant” or “What We Believe” that discuss homosexuality, sometimes accompanied by biblical proof texts or “texts of terror,” as they are referred to by Christian gays and lesbians and our allies. Some institutions don’t have a separate statement on homosexuality, but do require faculty to conform to the student handbook that supports only heterosexual marriage. The language used in these statements includes “homosexual acts” or “homosexual practice” or “heterosexual marriage.” Such language allows your institutions to admit gay students, but carries with it the message that the institution does not think that they can look forward to a loving, committed, monogamous, same-sex relationship in the future.

At my institution there are no out faculty members. It is unclear to me whether simple orientation would place a person’s job at risk or whether behavior would be the primary issue.

You probably have read the 2011 New York Times article titled, “Even on Religious Campuses, Students Fight for Gay Identity.” I am perplexed by CCCU institutions whose student handbooks state that marriage is to be between a man and a woman, that refuse to hire openly gay faculty, and yet have clubs for gay and lesbian students in order to create a “safe” place for them. While I welcome such clubs, what does safety and hospitality mean if the real message is, “Here you can be safe as a gay student, but know that we think that you must be alone, without a partner, to be an obedient Christian”?

Read more:Inside Higher Ed

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